Anti-tuberculosis Vaccine (B.C.G.).
In collaboration with the Medical Research Council, there
was begun a Trial of Anti-tuberculous Vaccine (B.C.G.).
The B.C.G. vaccine distributed at present by the Ministry
of Health is intended essentially for use in groups who may be
heavily exposed to tuberculosis. However, there is little direct
unequivocal evidence of its value in persons exposed to the ordinary
conditions of life in this country. The question as to whether
anti-tuberculosis vaccine should be used as a method of massimmunisation
in countries such as our own has not been satisfactorily
answered. It is this question which the Medical Research
Council would like to answer through the trial now being planned,
which has the full approval of the Ministry of Health.
The trial involves at the outset children leaving secondary
modern schools at the age of 15, and it is proposed to follow them
up by regular examinations for at least three years. Participants
in the trial are volunteers. Circulars describing the scheme and
asking for volunteers were sent to all parents of school-leavers.
The circulars to the parents stressed the fact that all children
participating in the scheme have the advantage of routine medical
examinations, and described in essence the character of the examinations.
Meetings of headmasters and headmistresses were arranged
to explain the scheme and obtain their full co-operation.
The scheme is being operated by a Medical Research Council
team especially assigned to this work. The sequence of examinations
is as follows :—
Penultimate school term : Initial tuberculin-testing and
X-raying of volunteers ; inoculation with B.C.G. of those
tuberculin-negatives selected for vaccination.
Final school term (12-16 weeks later) : Second tuberculin
test and second X-ray of all children tuberculin-negative at
first test (whether vaccinated or not).
All groups will be X-rayed and tuberculin-tested at regular
intervals for at least three years. In addition, they will receive
regular visits from a health visitor.
The examinations began towards the end of October, and the
investigation is now well under way.